Save Onderon: The Second Goliath
A deafening wind roared through his ears as his eyes slowly opened. His team, his brothers laid completely motionless around him and in front of him the Jedi they had all come to respect and trust so much. They were ambushed their presence discovered and all of them almost killed as the enemy tried to burn them alive in their place of hiding, but they managed to escape only to be attacked by a column of tanks and heavy cannons. The explosive shells being fired toward their location sent violent shockwaves through the ground as they ran dodging shell after shell until finding brief safety inside a collapsing building.
Hiding inside the building one of his brothers silently growled, "What are we going to do? They'll find us eventually".
"Should we abort?" another of his brothers asked.
"No" the Jedi told them, "We can still salvage this now that they know we're out here they'll call for reinforcements to help find us and we can use that to our advantage. If we can somehow lead them further away from the targets they will be less guarded when we get to them and we can take them out before they circle back".
"But how?" he asked already guessing at several potential answers the Jedi would give him. He knew this particular Jedi all too well, despite his young age he had a talent for many forms of combat and even though he occasionally acted childish and even a bit insane he was very clever and always quick to think on his feet.
The Jedi walked over to a dirty counter and jumped turning as he did and sitting on its top crossing one leg over the knee of the other and wrapping his hand around his chin. It wouldn't be long before the enemy found them, but they needed a moment to think of a new plan and it was difficult to do while dodging blaster fire and artillery strikes. Taking a seat at one of the dusty tables he leaned his rifle between his legs and sighed as his brothers also took a short rest.
They were on Coruscant just a day ago and three days before that they had returned from the most devastating battle any of them had ever seen. Ruusan had been targeted by the CIS and they were hell bent on capturing the world which they eventually succeeded in doing. The enemy's forces far outnumbered their own if it wasn't a hundred to one it was damn close and they were hopelessly, hilariously outgunned and even more unprepared for what was waiting for them just like they are now.
They were deployed mere minutes after hearing of the situation and it wasn't just a regular deployment a massive Republic fleet a dozen cruisers strong and even a Special Forces unit with six Jedi. To say the situation was dire would be a vast understatement given leave to speak freely he would say the situation was drowning in the shitter. There was good news though, their main force was holding firm last time they checked easily holding back the enemy, but that wouldn't last long if they couldn't complete the missions they were given. As dangerous as all of it was he biggest concern was for the Jedi leading them.
The Jedi barely seemed to be there for most of the day his mind just seemed to be somewhere else something that was bothering him far more than their current mission. He wanted to ask him what it was, but something told him he wouldn't get much of an answer even though they were friends it just seemed to be a matter he didn't wish to speak about. The Jedi noticed him looking at him and gave him a half smile that he could tell was fake, but he nodded giving him a silent thumbs up as a response. This really sucked; the mission was bad enough without having to be coordinated with another strike force and to top it all off the biggest threat was the monster that waited for them.
Onderon, a planet in the Inner Rim formerly allied with the Separatists during the war the world had recently returned to the Republic thanks to the efforts of its new senator Lux Bonteri. A day for celebration as many hoped other worlds would follow Onderon and come back to the Galactic Republic, but that celebration and hopeful feeling didn't last long.
Emergency transmission from Onderon, the planet was under attack. It seems the Separatists weren't happy about the world joining their enemy and had to make an example of them. Six star destroyers dropped out of hyperspace and immediately began bombing the planet surface from orbit a blitzkrieg attack to cripple their victims before sending in their ground forces. Onderon's military barely managed to get an emergency message out before their communication satellites were destroyed along with any defensive options they had. Within hours the entire planet was under enemy control.
When the emergency transmission was received Supreme Chancellor Palpatine refused to allow the cowardly surprise attack to go unanswered. A fleet would be deployed immediately to the newly allied world and to guarantee their success he would send the very best he could into battle. A dozen star cruisers each filled with mobile artillery, tanks, shield generators, battalions of clones along with a decorated commando squad and six Jedi had all been assigned to this mission, with a force like this victory was assured.
That's what they had thought anyway, upon arrival at Onderon and breaking through the Separatist blockade they learned all too late that their biggest challenge was waiting for them on the surface. A goliath, just like on Ruusan a goliath was there waiting for them and they were unprepared for it. It wasn't the same one from Ruusan this one was different entirely according to the stolen data the smuggler Liliana was able to recover this one was designated Black Dragon a weapon with the sole purpose of decimation.
The second the massive storm of Republic dropships appeared in the skies above Iziz the goliath began attacking them. Massive guns that fired incendiary rounds began littering the sky exploding into massive rings of fire almost hot enough to scorch the sky itself. Dozens of dropships were lost during insertion alone, but most of the ground forces managed to land within the walls of the Unifar Temple. The Republic forces quickly cleared out the courtyard before dividing into separate battalions one to clear the temple and destroy the remaining enemy forces within, one to set up ray shields to protect the temple from enemy attacks and the other to set up essential equipment.
With communications, radar and the command center established it was time for the Republic forces to begin their counter attack to force the Separatists from Onderon. The hours passed slowly as the massive battle continued, seemingly endless waves of droids tried passing through the ray shield only to be gunned down and the goliath continued to bombard the shield along with full artillery strikes thankfully the shield continued to hold even though the fiery shelling pretended to incinerate it. Through the hours dozens of clones were killed and many more injured, but luck continued to be on their side as the continuing bombing seemed to drain the goliath's power at least that's what they assumed after the mechanical monster retreated from the fight slowly taking to the sky before flying back to the separatist fleet and the special cruiser designed to transport it.
That was the break the Republic forces needed now without the support of the goliath they could begin a counter attack. Allied fighters flew over the city taking images of enemy positions and checkpoints sending it back to the command center in the temple courtyard. There were two positions where the enemy forces were most fortified, the warehouse district and adjacent starport and the old school district where the Ov Taraba University was turned into a massive anti-air artillery site.
"It seems each of these positions serves a different purpose" Obi-Wan said scratching his beard as he and his fellow Jedi gathered around the large hologram.
Mace Windu, Luminara Unduli, Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Leon Solstice and himself. Six Jedi were assigned to this mission of protecting Onderon at first it seemed excessive, but the Chancellor heavily insisted even begged for the extra aide from the Jedi Order, but with the presence of a goliath it no longer seemed an excessive number.
"Yes" Master Windu agreed cupping his hands behind his back, "It seems the warehouse district was cleaned out and is now being used to store their tanks that aren't on patrol".
Obi-Wan nodded, "Yes and it seems the school district as been turned into a massive anti-air zone and the starport is now serving as their airfield".
Luminara finished, "We can't move any troops through the central market. It's practically a killing field according to our advance recon reports there are dozens of potential sniper perches as well as a minefield throughout the area. The enemy won't send any of their own forces through there instead they will just hide and wait within the buildings and rooftops to pick off any of our troops that move through. If the mines don't get them the enemy's superior positioning will".
"What about the civilians?" Leon asked them, "They were all able to be evacuated right?"
Master Windu nodded, "Yes all untrained civilians were evacuated through underground tunnels that lead outside the city and the king has also been moved to safety. There are a few Onderon soldiers that have been captured by the enemy if we can we must rescue them".
"Well all things considered I think we're getting off pretty lucky" Anakin said, "Without civilians to worry about we won't have to hold back too much. Of course even with the amount of forces we brought we're still going to have a difficult time retaking this place".
Obi-Wan agreed with his former student, "Yes I agree. As long as we stay within these walls and under this shield we have nothing to fear, but once we send our troops beyond it the enemy has every advantage from firepower to numbers and there's no telling how long until that goliath returns".
"So what are we going to do?" Leon asked catching a quick glance from Ahsoka who immediately snapped her attention away from him, "Between the six of us and the commando squad sent with us it should be easy to sneak through the town and dismantle every enemy position right?"
His fellow Jedi gave him bemused looks before he started pointing at the hologram, "Look all we have to do is take out each position. The loss of a single one will drastically affect their combat capabilities and if we take out all of them they'll either be forced into retreat or too few in numbers to fight back. It's that simple".
Obi-Wan chuckled, "That sounds like the crazy kind of plan Anakin would say".
Anakin retorted, "Criticize all you want my old master, but you've seen for yourself how effective my crazy plans work".
"I still say that's not something you should brag about" Obi-Wan shot back calmly.
"Crazy or not" Master Windu began moving his eyes over the hologram of the city and the marked enemy positions, "It's a plan that could work and it does sound like our best bet. The Chancellor sent the Delta Squad with us we could assign them to the targets and have them take them out one at a time. If we can somehow get the enemy to fight us in front of the temple the commandos can sneak out and wait until nightfall to make their move to the targets".
"One squad to take out two targets?" Leon asked his master, "That would take too long especially once the enemy realizes the commandos are out there they'll reinforce the remaining positions before they get hit and recall their main force to defend".
"I assume you have a better plan Leon?" Luminara asked him to which he responded with an amused look.
"When do I not. We send two teams out one to hit each target and we synchronize our attacks and take them all out at once".
Obi-Wan asked him, "And who would this second team be?"
Leon rolled his shoulder back, "My team who else?"
None of them were surprised by that, Leon like Anakin was always the first one to jump headfirst into a battle and since befriending a squad of clones who he began calling Titan squadron he always insisted on fighting along side them. He had actually made a personal request to the Chancellor as commander in chief of the GAR to be given exclusive command of the four, formerly five man clone team. It was an odd thing to request, but it was undeniable that Leon and these particular clones had wielded great results in the past. It wasn't a bad decision thought the so called Titan squadron were just ordinary clones they were extremely tenacious and persevered through challenges that would make ARC troopers struggle and Leon's forte at combat had become well known throughout the grand army and Jedi Order.
"You're clones are skilled Leon" Luminara began, "But the commandos were specifically made for this kind of mission".
Leon cut her off, "And? My team can make ARC troopers look like boy scouts they're just as good as the commandos if not better and they're going to prove it" he turned his attention to the hologram again, "Four targets seven clones and me for a total of eight troops it'll be more than easy".
Edge was starting to wish Leon hadn't said those words. Comedic confidence or not this covert mission would be far from easy and the enemy had already discovered them outside the safety of the ray shield making it all the harder now that they were looking for them.
"Where the hell is the other team?" Chip asked casually rolling a grenade between his hands.
"We did agree to rendezvous with them here" Baron said, "Then again we kind of caused a ruckus after being discovered by the enemy it's possible they were discovered to".
Boulder laughed quietly, "Maybe they got themselves blown up, so much for the deluxe models".
"That's enough Boulder" Edge said, "They'll be here we just have to keep waiting and hope the enemy doesn't find us first".
The clone captain gave looked to Leon he had stretched out and was now laying on the counter top completely lost in his own thoughts as they waited. What happened between him and Commander Tano he wondered.
Before they left the temple grounds Edge saw Leon and Ahsoka talking they both seemed rather distraught and nervous about something. Their conversation didn't last long, the young Togruta walked off rather quickly with a mix of concern and tense on her face and when he saw Leon his expression was pretty similar only he seemed to be afraid more than tense and was definitely concerned about something other than the mission. He remembered Leon making a joke once that Ahsoka was his girlfriend although that was only in response to another stupid joke that Boulder had made to him, but even though he was a Jedi, Leon was a ladies man. Edge had seen him flirting with women on more than one occasion even some female Republic officers he definitely wasn't shy about doing so maybe he tried flirting with Ahsoka and ended up getting yelled at over it.
He shook his head and looked to the floor, no that wouldn't be it Leon practically enjoyed getting himself into trouble just so he would have something to laugh at, in a childish way almost everything was a joke to him, but that was also something that made him easy to get along with he was almost never serious or frustrated he was always smiling and calm.
The clone captain continued to watch his Jedi friend wondering what it was that had him so distant and absentminded today, but his thoughts were interrupted by a shuffling sound outside the windows.
His brothers and his Jedi friend heard it as well; they leapt up from their seats and huddled into shadowed corners readying their weapons in case it was an enemy patrol. Slowly he shuffling grew louder and closer becoming thudding impacts, footsteps.
"This it's those commandos?" Boulder whispered.
"Quiet" Baron snapped aiming his rifle at the only entrance to the room they were in.
Shadows leapt from the floor to the wall and three bulky figures slowly entered the room.
"Ice pick" one of them said in a loud whisper.
"Fortune" Edge replied in an equally loud whisper.
The three clones that made up the commando unit lowered their weapons and Leon and his team stepped out from the shadows.
"About time you guys got here" Boulder said, "Busy sightseeing?"
Edge snapped at him, "Stow it Boulder" he saluted the commando unit, "Captain Edge of Titan squad sir".
The clone at the head of the commando unit nodded to him, "Delta 38, designation RC-1138, likewise Captain".
Edge watched the Jedi leap back onto the countertop and cup his hands behind his back as he laid down again, "I assume one of the Generals briefed you on the mission sir?"
The commando nodded, "Yeah we're to take the AA site while you and your team take out the warehouse district and starport".
Chip chuckled, "So we get two targets huh? That works for me just means I get to set off more fireworks".
The delta leader kept his eyes on Edge, "We heard cannon fire earlier were you compromised?"
"Afraid so" Edge nodded, "We managed to lose them, but they're probably still looking for us. That's irrelevant however we have our orders and I plan to see them through no matter what's standing in my way".
"Good" the commando nodded before looking past him and to the young Jedi resting on the dirty countertop.
The Jedi slid off the countertop and dusted his leggings, "Alright now that we're all here let's get ready to move out".
That proved it, Edge thought. Leon was never someone to say so few words something really was weighing heavily on his mind.
Following the Jedi's instructions the clones slowly filed out of the room two by two until they were all outside. They were in the central market now a few blocks north and they would be at the center of the city where they would split up and go their separate ways to the individual targets. The whole time Boulder and Chip continued to whisper jokes back and forth despite Edge telling them to cut the chatter, the two motor mouths just kept at it and Edge kept his eyes on his Jedi friend who hadn't said a single word since they set out. Usually he enjoyed engaging Boulder and Chip in a round of verbal sparring even in a situation like this the three of them loved to go back and forth.
Edge wasn't the only one who noticed Leon was acting strangely his brothers noticed as well. Baron suspected that he may not be feeling well and was trying to hide it or that the presence of the goliath was reminding him of what happened to Coins, but that was something they all had somewhere in their minds. Boulder and Chip noticed Leon's strange change in behavior as well the loss of their banter partner made things seem quiet despite their nonstop chatter. None of them knew the reason he was acting the way he was.
Finally across the market Leon looked to Edge and gave him a nod and he nodded back before turning to the leader of the delta squad.
"Alright this is where we split up. Good luck sir we'll see you on the other side".
The commando nodded and took his team to the right while Edge, his team and the unusually quiet Jedi went left. Their target was only a couple of miles away, but most likely heavily guarded. That didn't matter though between the five of them the enemy's position would be completely reduced to rubble within a few minutes and though he would never say it out loud Edge wanted his team to complete their mission faster than the delta commandos he wanted to beat them to prove they were just as good if not better.
Approaching their target Edge placed a scope on his rifle and scanned the area automatic turrets, several dozen droids patrolling and tanks and cannons everywhere and not far off the starport which housed several vulture droids complete with bomb racks and other heavy munitions to rain death upon one's enemy. The good news is the tanks and cannons were currently not being piloted; the bad news was they would be easily accessed by the enemy once their enemy noticed that they were there.
"Then we just don't let 'em see us" Boulder said with a smug laugh.
Again Edge looked to Leon that was his line the young Jedi never let someone steal his lines from him. Even if he wouldn't get an answer he had to ask.
"Leon what's bothering you?" he asked him straight out, "You're being way too quiet today it's not like you".
"I know" Leon replied keeping his eyes glued on the enemy position, "You don't have to worry though I'm completely focused on the objective".
Edge shook his head, "I'm not worried about that Leon I trust you completely we all do there just seems to be something on your mind that bothering you".
"A lot of things actually" the young Jedi sighed, "Thalia left the Order this morning along with her people she left Coruscant altogether and went to Dantooine".
"Why?" Baron asked.
Leon blinked changing the sad look in his eyes, "The time for her to become the leader of her people had come. It would take too long for them to adapt to life on a city world so they went to Dantooine".
"Sorry to hear that" Boulder said dropping a heavy hand on the Jedi's shoulder, "You two would have made a good couple".
"In another life yeah" Leon exhaled and shook his head, "You guys remember Ord Mantell right? What I said to Dooku that day and I'm sure you know about the Jedi's rule against becoming attached to others" he shook his head and growled quietly.
"Screw it long story short is I…I'm in love with Ahsoka and I think…I think it happened a long time ago I just never fully noticed it".
"So that's what's bothering you then" Chip said slapping his hand onto his other shoulder, "My little Jedi is all grown up".
Leon slowly turned his head to the bomb crazy clone, "You are aware that I could kill you right?"
"Knock it off you two" Edge said to Chip and Boulder, "So that's what's got you so out of character today huh?"
His Jedi friend nodded, "Yeah sorry if that worried any of you at all" he shook his head again and a small smile cracked his lips, "I feel a little better now. Maybe I just needed to get that off my chest".
Baron patted him on the back, "That's what we're here for buddy. We'll have to continue this another time though it's almost time to begin the operation".
Leon and the clones snapped their attention forward, their synchronized watches showed only a few minutes left before they were to attack their targets simultaneously with Delta's. As the seconds slowly dropped to zero Leon leapt to his feet and dashed out into the open jumping high into the air and landing behind the line of auto turrets, his lightsaber flared to life as he swung his arm slicing through the first turret and his team of clones charged in behind him. A sea of blaster fire was immediately directed toward the young Jedi as a second colored blade, a red one joined the battle now silver and red danced through the wave of red blaster fire deflecting bolts away or back at their origins while blue bolts fired from behind him found their targets. The alarm sounded and the next countdown began it would only be a minute before additional droids joined the fray.
Ducking and rolling to the side Edge stood up and aimed his sniper rifle scoring a headshot and taking down a droid trying to take control of a manual turret. Turning his rifle to the right he scored another hit and then a third each shot destroying their target before the sights were moved to the next.
Boulder slowly stopped running reaching over his back grabbing hold of his rotary cannon and with a wicked grin under his helmet and a rather insane laugh began firing at the line of droids from behind the coverage of his Jedi friend's lightsaber barrier. Droid after droid fell dozens of them in seconds at the heavy weapon pummeled through their lines.
To the left Baron and Chip were sprinting from tank to tank, cannon to cannon setting remote charges on each of them making sure to stay hidden, but were eventually spotted. A quick uppercut knocked the droid's weapon from its arms and Chip grappled the machine's head twisting it and then pulling it off before punting it away with a laugh. The two clones had been found, but their part in the mission hadn't changed set the charges then retreat with the team to a safe distance.
"That's the last of them" Chip yelled over his com, "Everyone fall back".
Edge ducked avoiding a blaster shot aimed at him and turned to run. Boulder pivoted on his heel and returned his rotary cannon to its resting spot over his back and grabbed his rifle slapping Leon on the back as he ran as well. Once Boulder was clear from behind him Leon stopped spinning his lightsabers and with a roar sent a heavy force wave toward the enemy lines knocking them over before he turned to run as well.
Regrouping with each other and hiding behind cover Edge looked to Chip and nodded with a yell, "Do it!"
"Boom" Chip cheered pressing down on the detonator setting off the charges he and Baron set.
A chain of explosions shook the earth and the ground vibrated as each of the charges went off in a cascade. Some targets were torn apart by the exploding charges while others were thrown into the air either way they were all as good as rubble now. Many of the enemy droids were caught in the blast radius and destroyed with them the remainder continuing the fight, but quickly fell without the support of their heavier weapons.
The first objective was complete, but the alarms were still going enemy reinforcements would be upon them soon, they had to move fast. On to the starport, their next target. Offline vulture droids littered the starport dozens of them from one end to the next all standing on their sharp scythe like leg wings sleeping like infants.
"Oh this is just too good to be true" Boulder chuckled, "They're offline this will be easy".
Baron pivoted on his heel to check their six, "I swear Boulder if you jinx us I'll shoot you myself".
Boulder laughed, "What's wrong Baron, scared?"
Leon stopped and held his arm up silencing them.
"What is it Leon?" Edge asked.
"I…I sense something" he replied in a mutter, "There's something here, waiting for us".
"Night vision doesn't show anything" Baron said after scanning the area, "Are you sure there's something out there?"
Leon nodded, "Two…no three…four I can sense them, I've felt this sensation before…" his eyes slowly opened, "Spectres".
"Spectres?" Edge repeated as if he didn't hear him properly and then moaned, "Dammit I hate those things".
Baron held his finger to the side of his visor changing his night vision to thermal, "I see them. I'm picking up low heat signatures I count five".
Leon seemed confused, "I can only sense four…" he closed his eyes again stretching out with his mind and feeling the area around them still only able to sense the four spectre droids hiding behind their cloaking ability and then he felt it something moved, a shadow flew across the darkness.
"It just moved" Baron whispered.
"I feel it" Leon said.
The unknown shadow glided through the darkness swiftly approaching one of the spectre droids from the side and then in a single, silent second the spectre droid's cloak dropped and it fell to the floor in two halves.
"The others are moving" Baron said, "They're staying cloaked, but they're moving toward the one that just went down. What the hell just happened?"
Leon's already closed eyes clenched tightly as he strained his extended senses, he heard something. A light tap and then a whoosh like something had flown through the air and then another tap and then a vibrating hum that was very familiar, the hum of a lightsaber. Another spectre fell, split in half just like the first and the other two raised their weapons scanning the area.
"Should we just wait here?" Edge asked.
Leon opened his eyes, "I'm not sure whatever is hiding over there feels familiar I've felt this particular form of anger before it feels like…betrayal".
"Maybe whoever it is will do our job for us" Boulder said.
Chip scoffed, "As long as I get to see something blow up I don't care who does the job".
"That's another one down" Baron whispered watching the third spectre get split down the middle, "Only one left".
Leon jumped up and extended his arm grabbing hold of the cloaked spectre droid and raising it into the air and yanking it toward him, cutting it down with his lightsaber.
"Who's there?" he called out.
Something moved in the shadows a swift wraith flying through before a glint appeared from a corner. Tightening his grip on the hilt of his weapon Leon called to the shadows again demanding whoever was there to come out. Like a ghost the one responsible for eliminating the spectres stepped out, a tall, slender, curvy figure with pale gray skin and a bald, feminine head.
"Ventress?" Leon muttered aloud upon seeing the former assassin, "What are you doing here?"
"Take a guess Jedi" she said with a hateful hiss, "Dooku betrayed me tried to kill me and then he attacks my home and wipes out my sisters. I'm here to make sure the Separatists taste no victory".
Switching off his saber and returning it to his belt Leon stepped forward motioning to his clones to lower their weapons.
"Well thanks for dealing with those things saved us the trouble and noise".
"I didn't do it for you" she corrected, "I did it for myself".
Leon shook his head, "Doesn't really matter" he turned back to his clones, "Go ahead and start setting the charges".
Returning his attention to Ventress he motioned to the side with his hand before walking over to a barrel and sat on top of it.
"So you're out for revenge on Dooku well I can definitely understand that. Why not join up with us, you don't have to come back to the Order, but fight for the Republic and when we finally reach Dooku you'll get your chance at revenge".
Ventress leaned against a pillar, "I do not care for your Republic or the Jedi Order. I have only one goal and that is to take Dooku's head".
"Well I'm afraid you're going to have to get in line" Leon said, "Because I got first dibs on him".
"I will only warn you of this once" Ventress began, "If you or anyone else gets in my way I will kill you along with Dooku".
Leon shrugged one shoulder, "Well you'll do what you have to I guess. Before you leave though I have a proposition for you".
"And what's that?" the former Sith assassin asked.
"Have you seen the goliath?" Leon asked her, "That massive droid that left the city a few hours ago".
"I did not see it, but I know of them. What about it?"
"Help us take it down" Leon said outright, "Dark side or not there's no denying your strength in the Force. If you want to send a message to Dooku then help us destroy the goliath. They are the most dangerous weapons the Separatists have and if we destroy one then it will be a devastating blow to them and it will definitely reach Dooku's ears. And if he learns you were involved he will know you're still hunting him and that will be something that will make him sleep with one eye open".
Ventress turned her head an evil, scheming smile stretched her lips, "You may be on to something there…I think we have a deal" she turned back to him, "But make no mistake in no way does this make us allies or friends".
Leon smirked, "Fair enough".
"All charges set Leon" Edge said running over to them, "We should get out of here while we can".
"I have a better idea" Ventress said, "These vulture droids behave like any other droid and act of an artificial intelligence programming, but they can also be manually controlled. Tell me did you set your explosives directly on them".
Edge gave Leon a quick look and then nodded to Ventress, "We did why?"
Ventress' scheming smile grew wider, "We take control of these droids and turn them against the rest of the droids and when the goliath returns we send them after it. Their weapons will be useless against such a large target, but when they are driven right into it with explosives packed on".
"Now I see where you're going with this" Edge said. He looked back to Leon, "That actually sounds like a good plan to me".
Leon agreed, "Yeah it does…" he turned his attention back to Ventress, "Any idea how we get control of these things?"
"You just leave that to me" she smiled almost seductively as she stepped back into the shadows calling back to them, "You'd best hurry back to your little camp boys".
Leon shrugged again, "Well I guess that means we're done here, any word from Delta?"
Edge nodded, "Yeah they've completed their half of the mission and are waiting to hear from us".
Leon activated his comlink, "Leon Solstice to Delta Squad do you copy?"
"Delta here" their leader's voice replied, "Our mission was successful what is your status?"
"Complete as well" Leon told him looking back at the shadows where Ventress disappeared, "But we've modified the plan a bit I'll explain when we make it back to the temple. Double time it back to base soldier".
"Roger that Commander".
The transmission ended and Leon stretched his arms out, "Anyone feel like beating them back to base?"
Boulder and Chip both chuckled while Edge and Baron were glad to see Leon returning to his normal personality, the five of them left the starport and returned to the base camp in the temple courtyard.
"Ah Leon you're back" Master Windu said upon his padawan's return, "I notice that the starport is still active".
Leon rolled his head in a circle to stretch his neck and yawned lightly, "Actually I have something to tell everyone so let's get everyone important together first".
Waiting for all of his fellow Jedi and the Delta team to join them Leon told them that his team had run into Ventress and then explained the former assassin's plan to them to use the rigged vulture droids against the goliath.
"I admit it sounds like a reasonable plan" Luminara began, "But I don't think we can trust the assassin".
"Former assassin" Leon corrected, "And regardless of what we think of her or what she thinks of us we do have a common enemy in Dooku and if she's willing to help us destroy a goliath I say we take it after all these things are tough enough as it is so we need the extra help to begin with".
"He does have a point" Obi-Wan said, "I'm sure none of us want a repeat of what happened on Ruusan".
Windu nodded keeping his seemingly eternal stoic expression, "Destroying one of the goliaths would deal a great blow to the Separatist's military strength and morale. It would also go to show that they can be destroyed".
"I still don't like it" Anakin said folding his arms, "I don't trust Ventress".
"I don't think any of us do Anakin" Obi-Wan said to him, "But we'd be fools to turn down her assistance at a time like this".
"Where's Ahsoka?" Leon asked looking around not seeing her anywhere.
Anakin pointed to a large tent that was set up after Leon left, "She's in there. We set up another rig to communicate with Coruscant. The Chancellor and Senator Bonteri are pretty worried and are asking for updates on our progress. I don't think the young senator likes being left out of the fight".
"Well it is his home" Leon said, "If the Separatists were attacking Dantooine I'd be the first one there to protect it. Lux is different he's no good to his people if he gets himself killed".
Leon yawned again loudly this time and stepped back rubbing his eyes.
"You look pretty tired" Anakin chuckled, "When was the last time you got some sleep?"
"What the hell is sleep?" Leon asked him with an exhausted smile, "I'd say about forty-seven hours now".
"Go rest for a little while" Anakin said nudging him with his elbow, "We can handle everything from here. Just don't sleep too hard you don't want to miss the goliath's grand return".
Leon gave him a sarcastic chuckle before yawning again, "Alright well I'm clocking out for the day see you when the fireworks start up again".
Passing by the second command tent Leon heard Ahsoka's voice inside and stepped watching her give an update to the Chancellor and Lux.
"We sent out the Delta team to hit the School District and we sent Leon along with Titan Squadron to take out the warehouse district and the starport. We should be hearing back from them soon".
"That's good to hear" Palpatine said quietly, "Hopefully that goliath monster won't return anytime soon. I've sent three more cruisers to aid you in your efforts they should arrive within a few hours".
Ahsoka nodded thanking the Chancellor before Lux spoke, "I wish I could be there with you. I won't stand for this attack the people of Onderon won't stand for it. We've only recently won our freedom and now we have to fight for it again".
"Calm yourself Lux" Palpatine said, "There is a reason I sent such a large force to your home. I guarantee on my personal honor that they will succeed in protecting Onderon".
"Well we're two thirds of the way there" Leon said walking over to Ahsoka and looking up at the hologram of the Chancellor, "The warehouse and school districts have been neutralized and we've come up with a plan that may destroy the goliath".
"Now that's good to hear" Palpatine smiled, "What is it?"
Leon kept his eyes locked on the Chancellor, "We're going to take manual control over the vulture droids that are being housed at the starport. We have explosive charges set on each of them once the goliath returns we're going to fly them right into it and blow it to hell. At the very least we will damage it enough for our fleet to finish off with a few shots from orbit, but with luck we'll destroy it without needing their help. Either way it will not be getting away".
The Chancellor sighed, "Music to my ears. Just make sure to be careful in this plan I want everyone to come back alive from this one".
Leon slowly nodded and the transmission ended. Taking in a steady breath he turned to Ahsoka who was awkwardly and nervously glancing to the side.
"Ahsoka there's something I want to say".
She shook her head, "No…I don't want to hear…" she fell silent inhaling a breath and releasing it, "I'm not ready to talk yet I'm still trying to sort out how I feel".
"That's what I wanted to tell you" he said, "I wanted to apologize for putting you through this. I knew admitting my feelings to you would make you nervous and maybe make you panic a bit, but…I just didn't want to keep it hidden any longer and…express my hopes that we can still be friends".
Silently Ahsoka nodded and walked past him leaving the tent. Now alone Leon exhaled his held breath his nerves screaming at him half pleading for rest the other half to go after Ahsoka. The former won and Leon walked over to a single cot littered with equipment and with a single wave of his hand used the Force to clear it off before lying down. His burning eyes closed before his body met the cot and within seconds he was asleep.
A dull, throbbing pain burned at his lower abdomen. His hand moved down to cover the bleeding hole in his torso, multiple small puncture wounds and a broken shoulder on top of being physically exhausted he was in a bad situation that showed only signs of getting worse. Next to him Ahsoka also bruised and bleeding had her lightsaber firmly held in front of her and in front of them two meters tall and four meters long it had the appearance of a large spiky lizard with short tusks on top of its snout and a row of spikes running down its tail and back. The creature was clearly aggressive just from the looks of it, but it proved to be far more dangerous than its appearance would ever suggest, with surprising speed and strength it managed to injure both of the young Jedi backing both of them into a corner.
The creature made a growling hiss as it turned its head between them before cautiously advancing toward them it was a definite predator cornering them and waiting for them to either collapse from exhaustion or make the first move so it could finish them off either way it looked bad. The subtle rumbling in the sky told them a storm would soon be upon them and on this seemingly lifeless, hostile world they wouldn't want to be caught in a storm without shelter. The massive lizard leapt forward swinging its clawed front leg at them and they jumped to opposite sides flanking the animal. Leon spun on his heel turning his lightsaber behind him and stabbed it into the beast's side and it reeled and roared in pain its tail and head thrashing about knocking Leon down and forcing Ahsoka to back away.
The lizard turned to the downed Leon and approached him the fallen Jedi kicked his leg out trying to strike the lizard or at least get it to back away, but his ankle was caught in the beast's jaws. The lizard opened its mouth and captured Leon's foot as he tried to kick it, its strong jaws sunk dozens of sharp teeth into the base of his leg as its head thrashed to the side ripping into his flesh. Leon screamed in pain as his skin and muscle was being ripped from his leg, desperately he sat up and pointed at the beast's eye focusing the Force into the tip of his finger and firing a pinpoint pulse of Force energy striking his mark.
The beast roared releasing him as it stumbled back once again in pain as Leon crawled away and Ahsoka leapt up and drove her lightsaber through the blinded lizard's head killing it. Breathing heavily Leon accepted Ahsoka's hand as she helped him up and lightly leaned on her shoulder, both of them injured and on the verge of collapsing as another rumble of thunder roared through the sky this one much closer and directly above them. Thankfully a small hollow space in the side of the cliff next to them provided the shelter they needed limping inside they both collapsed against the wall next to each other and dropped down still leaning against each other's shoulder.
A massive roar tore through the sky and shook the ground and Leon's eyes flew open and he jumped to his feet. Panicked yells overlapped outside the tent and another explosion shook the ground, this kind of commotion could only mean one thing, the goliath had returned.
Booking it out of the tent Leon set his eyes on the sky outside the ray shield covering the temple the separatist fleet was still visible far off in the distance and the goliath was halfway through the city firing bomb after bomb at the ray shield. Each shell on impact exploded into a wreath of flames that licked at the shield and incinerated everything else on contact. A breath froze before it left his lungs if it wasn't for the ray shield they would have burned to death a hundred times over from that one shell. His hands balled into tight fists and he recalled the day Coins was shot down and killed on Ruusan, rage flooded through him. It wasn't the same goliath from that day, but it was still a monster of equal destructive power and it needed to be stopped before anyone else died.
Seeing an orbital shuttle flying in from low altitude at the back of the temple Leon ran over to it as it landed.
"What's going on here?" he asked the clones guiding the landing.
"Special delivery from Coruscant sir" one of the clones answered as the shuttle's ramp opened revealing a massive warhead.
"What the hell is that?" Leon asked seeing the bomb.
The same clone answered him, "Upon hearing that a goliath was here the Chancellor sent another group of cruisers to help us fight one of them was carrying this baby. It's one hell of a bomb it has a small blast radius, but the impact zone itself will be left completely leveled. One direct hit from this thing and that goliath won't be there anymore".
"Vulture droids inbound" a voice yelled over their comlinks.
The clones and Jedi turned around looking toward the sky to see dozens of vulture droids flying in from the starport. Watching the flying droids split up into attack formations, the young Jedi wondered if Ventress was able to override their commands and take manual control of them. His fellow Jedi obviously didn't trust her Anakin expected her to just up and run leaving them to fight alone. Leon didn't trust her either, but he did trust her hatred for Dooku and that alone gave him faith that she would make good on her word.
A flare appeared in the sky and a large half of a separatist cruiser came crashing down to the surface landing a good hundred miles outside the city. After the enemy cruiser crashed Admiral Yularen on board the Resolute announced that their ship would be targeting the goliath for orbital bombing and within a minute of saying that shells designed to rip and tear its way through starship hulls rained down on the goliath dealing significant damage to the monster. A wall of dust and dirt and smoke was kicked up by the impact of the falling bombs, but the mechanical colossus could still be seen through the screen. The goliath hunched down a bit and began hovering off the ground, massive thrusters in its feet lifting the massive machine. Clear of the surrounding low-lying buildings twin thrusters erupted from the side of each leg and the goliath flew to the side with surprising speed before flashing back to its starting point and then dashing again to the opposite side and back.
For something so large it had surprising mobility and the demonstration was quite clear, it was sending them a message, telling them that it wouldn't be hit by another bomb. Despite its damaged state the goliath continued to bomb them with its flame based weapons eventually however the ray shields would give out unable to absorb anymore damage and radiation. They held firm so far thanks to the number of generators and arrays they brought with them, but it wouldn't last much longer.
The Black Dragon goliath stopped moving and its chest plate opened revealing a large flame colored core which burned as bright as a sun, it was charging one of its weapons. Leon remembered what Liliana has said when she revealed the second goliath to them the weapon housed within its chest, a cluster bomb that was easily capable of wiping out the entire city and the area around it. Activating his comlink Leon yelled for Admiral Yularen telling him to attack the goliath immediately.
The admiral's voice as always was calm as he responded, "One moment Commander, acquiring target".
"There's no time" Leon yelled, "If it fires that weapon this entire city will be vaporized. Attack it now!"
Three seconds later, a shell fell from the heavens and the goliath juked to the side the bright glow in its chest dimming down slightly as it dodged a second shot. They really dodged the bullet this time, but it would try again they had to stop it now. Turning back to the clones standing next to him Leon told them to arm the warhead inside the orbital shuttle.
"Sir?" the clone asked confused.
"I said arm the thing" Leon commanded, "I'm going to take it and send it right into that thing's chest".
"It doesn't matter arm it" Leon continued to yell, "That's an order soldier".
The two clones nodded and ran into the shuttle arming the warhead within seconds as Leon turned back to the goliath and felt a brief pause of relief. The swarm of vulture droids was attacking the goliath firing on it and then kamikaze diving into it the explosives attached to them making only minor explosions against the great menace, but they were managing to distract it. Some were flying right into its exposed chest the few that did must have caused some damage because once they vanished into the exposed cavity the goliath's body lurched backward as if it was in pain.
The clones returned to Leon telling him the warhead was armed before asking him his plan again, but the Jedi didn't answer as he quickly jumped into the pilot's seat and took off flying outside the protection of the ray shield. Seconds after he left the shield his comlink beeped and his former master's voice told him to turn around and return, but he refused.
"No we won't get another chance like this. I'm taking it".
"Leon its too dangerous" Luminara told him, "You need to turn around now".
"Trust me" he growled switching off his comlink, "I know what I'm doing".
The Black Dragon was still distracted by the few remaining vulture droids and unaware of Leon's approach, but that changed pretty quickly. The colossal monster turned toward the incoming shuttle its snout glowing red as its exposed chest cavity began glowing again, he would only get one shot at this. With the warhead armed and the target in range Leon titled the shuttle downward sending it on a direct path to crash inside the exposed core of the goliath.
Opening the canopy of the shuttle Leon climbed out and looked down at the ground so far below him, "Oh this is a really bad idea" he yelled to himself before jumping.
Plummeting to the ground the young Jedi pushed his hands downward sending a wave of force energy to the ground slowing his descent and allowing him to land safely. Not bothering to look back he quickly jumped to his feet and began running as far as he could focusing the Force through his body allowing him to run faster. He could sense it when it hit, he heard the click of the warhead's trigger and then the deafening boom that followed its detonation. A shockwave went out first nearly knocking Leon off his feet before the actual dome of the blast exploded outward in all directions destroying everything in its path. He could feel the heat of the blast approaching him he wasn't going to make it, only another few seconds and it would pass him, consume him and kill him.
Closing his eyes he felt something grab his leg and he was pulled to the ground. His eyes jumped open and he saw Ventress dragging him underground through a sewer entrance both of them dropping a good twenty feet down. She only barked one word to him when they landed and that was run which he did, continuing to sprint as the ground and walls around them began shaking violently. After the shaking reached its peak they both dropped to the ground running as far as they could falling to their knees, ducking down and covering their heads it was up to luck now if they would survive.
The earthquake ceased and the two exchanged a quick look before getting up and checking themselves, thankfully they were still alive.
"Thank you Ventress" Leon said dusting his leggings.
"You're welcome" she replied with her usual harsh, cold voice, "Don't get used to it though I won't be doing it again".
"Once is enough" he smiled returning to the surface access she used to drag him underground.
The damage was about what he expected, everything around them was torn apart and decimated, not even half of building walls remained and any traces of any debris had all been annihilated.
"Did your foolish plan work?" Ventress asked him before a deafening mechanical roar echoed over the area.
"That's…not possible" Leon said at a loss for words as the goliath slowly rose into the air.
The monster was damaged almost beyond recognition, one arm missing, half of a leg and a giant visible crack that ran from its waist line up to its shoulder, the bright orange light of its core shining through it. The Black Dragon hovered high into the air before turning toward the sky attempting to retreat from the battle.
"No, no, NO!" Leon yelled, after all that damage all that they had done it was still going to get away.
Feeling his anger boiling to a quick peak Leon clenched his fists, but Ventress kept her eyes on the goliath and scoffed, "Its not getting away".
Hearing her words Leon looked back to the sky and a hail of fire rained down from the Republic fleet orbiting the planet coming down on top of the retreating goliath. He couldn't tell how many actually hit their target, but it didn't matter. The goliath's ascent stopped and it fell back half a mile toward the ground before being engulfed by a bright orange light that was followed by another deafening explosion. As the light faded massive pieces of the colossal monster rained from the sky landing harmlessly outside the city limits, marking the death of the first out of three.
Without a word Ventress took her leave and Leon began making his way back to the city temple being met halfway by a team of troopers who had been sent to look for him.
"Need a lift you Commander?" the clone asked him with a chuckle.
Without a word Leon climbed onto the speeder bike weakly holding on to the sides of the bike as they returned to the base. Clones were cheering in roaring waves as he returned many of them cheering for their victory, but some of them for him, his bravery, his tenacity and maybe even a little bit for his stupidity. Leon weakly smiled pretending to revel in their cheers as he walked through them and up to his fellow Jedi who were waiting for him.
Anakin was the only one who had even the slightest grin on his face as he walked over to them the rest giving him questioning looks, not that he could blame him what he did was without a doubt the dumbest thing in the history of warfare.
Still he managed a weak smile and held up his finger pointing at all of them even Titan squadron that stood next to them, "I hope you all saw that…because I will not be doing it again".
With that his knees gave out and he fell forward being caught by Edge who shouldered him, "Alright there Leon?" he laughed, "You crazy S.O.B."
Leon moaned as the clone shouldered him, "I'm too hungry for this crap".